Vineland, NJ - New Jersy Holocaust Survivor Says She Remembers Seeing John Demjanjuk
Vineland, NJ - Esther Raab says she remembers John Demjanjuk.
She remembers him as a Ukrainian soldier, working in a Nazi death camp in Poland when she was a captive there in 1943. He would bring ammunition into the armory, where it would be fed into chains for machine guns. He would then leave with the ammo, and she’d hear the firing squads execute camp prisoners. Demjanjuk would return with the spent ammo.
“He wasn’t the tops,” Raab said. “He helped with transport. He put in the bullets. He went with the machine (gun).”
“When they caught him in America,” Raab said, “I said, ‘I remember him.’”
Today, Demjanjuk stands trial in Munich, Germany, for alleged war crimes in arguably the world’s most watched trial, as German prosecutors bring forth a case that, according to the German magazine focus, will have no eyewitnesses.
Meanwhile, the 88-year-old Raab sits more than 4,000 miles away in her adopted hometown of Vineland, with no part in the trial. She spent nine months at the Sobibor death camp in Poland before escaping in 1943 during a successful uprising there and hiding in a family friend’s barn for months. She later came to the U.S. with her husband, Irving, and they settled in Vineland, where their chicken farm grew to become Vineland Kosher Poultry, which bills itself as one of the nation’s three largest kosher chicken slaughterhouses.
Raab says she would testify in the Demjanjuk trial if asked. After all, it wouldn’t be her first war crimes trial. She testified in the 1950 trial of former Sobibor gas chamber operator Erich Bauer after she and a fellow Sobibor survivor spotted him at an amusement park. Bauer was subsequently convicted of mass murder. She also testified in other cases, including in defense of a Sobibor officer who was acquitted after she spoke of his kindness to prisoners.
This time, however, no one has called.
“She some years ago could not identify him in a photo spread provided by U.S. government officials,” said Martin Mendelsohn, an attorney representing Sobibor survivors’ descendants who have joined in the case.
That was more than 32 years ago. It’s why in 1993, after she first went public with her recollections, the Simon Wiesenthal Center recommended that her testimony not be used in Israel’s case against Demjanjuk.
Now prosecutors have again gone on without her, proceeding in a case with a legal history like no other.
Soviet soldier, captured
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